Macau Mass Market Players Probably Won’t Like Post-Coronavirus Changes, Says Morgan Stanley

Posted on: June 9, 2020, 08:35h. 

Last updated on: June 9, 2020, 10:50h.

When things finally get back to normal in Macau following quarantine protocols and travel bans implemented because of the coronavirus, mass market players may not like what the new normal is, says Morgan Stanley.

New Normal in Macau
Revenue from grind players could languish when business in Macau gets back to normal, says Morgan Stanley. (Image: Yahoo News)

The world’s largest gaming center is still dealing with the effects of COVID-19, as visits to the Special Administrative Region (SAR) remain scant and gross gaming revenue (GGR) there is tumbling. Morgan Stanley says that as travel bans are lifted and more gamblers return to the peninsula, mass market turnover is most vulnerable to negative impact at the hands of social distancing protocols.

The new normal, driven by social distancing, is particularly negative for grind-mass business due to restriction of three gamblers per table,” said the bank.

Macau leaders ordered casinos closed for 15 days in February as the coronavirus gripped China. Since reopening late that month, concessionaires are employing an array of new procedures aimed at preventing a second wave of COVID-19 cases. These include limiting table games to three players, forcing dealers to stand six feet behind the table, and running slot areas at only 50 percent capacity.

Potential Problem for Sands

Sands China, the Macau arm of Las Vegas Sands (LVS), isn’t just the largest operator in the SAR. It controls the biggest share of the mass and premium mass segments, potentially making it vulnerable to retrenchment in those demographics, says Morgan Stanley.

“Our analysis suggests more downside for Sands China (with highest exposure to grind mass)” when business returns in greater volume,” according to the bank.

LVS is the only one of the six Macau concessionaires that breaks out revenue by mass, premium mass, and VIP. The term “grind mass” referenced by Morgan Stanley refers to lower stakes players, while a premium mass gambler plays higher limits, though not on par with someone considered to be a high roller. Melco Resorts & Entertainment and Wynn Resorts are examples of Macau operators that are heavily dependent on VIPs.

“We conclude that Wynn Macau [Ltd] has the highest percentage of premium mass revenue, while Sands has the lowest,” said the Morgan Stanley analysts. “While the industry could see 19 percent lower mass revenue in 2021 (versus 2019), Sands China could see that down 24 percent due to its highest exposure to grind mass.”

Rough Start to June

Coming off a 93.2 percent GGR decline in May, Macau is off to a sluggish start this month, as travel bans remain in place with limited visibility on when those controls will ease.

Some research firms’ channel checks suggest that through the first seven days of June, daily revenue was just $7.14 million, compared to more than $99 million in the year earlier period.

In its monthly reports, the Macau Gaming and Inspection Bureau (DICJ) only separates high end and mass market revenue for baccarat. But those reports do include casino win percentages and holds for grind players based on table games and slots.